\ˈkəp \

Definition of cup 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an open usually bowl-shaped drinking vessel

2a : a drinking vessel and its contents

b : the consecrated wine of the Communion

3 : something that falls to one's lot

4 : an ornamental cup offered as a prize (as in a championship)

5 : something resembling a cup: such as

a : a cup-shaped plant organ

b : an athletic supporter reinforced usually with plastic to provide extra protection to the wearer

c : either of two parts of a brassiere that are shaped like and fit over the breasts

d : the metal case inside a hole in golf also : the hole itself

6 : a usually iced beverage resembling punch but served from a pitcher rather than a bowl

7 : a half pint : eight fluid ounces

8 : a food served in a cup-shaped usually footed vessel a fruit cup

9 : the symbol ∪ indicating the union of two sets — compare cap sense 7

in one's cups

: drunk


cupped; cupping

Definition of cup (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to treat by cupping

2a : to curve into the shape of a cup cupped his hands around his mouth

b : to place in or as if in a cup

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Other Words from cup


cuplike \ˈkəp-​ˌlīk \ adjective

Synonyms for cup

Synonyms: Noun


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Examples of cup in a Sentence


Would you like another cup of tea? The winner will take home the cup.


He cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted at us. I had to cup my hand to my ear in order to hear him. He cupped his mouth with his hands and shouted at us. I sat with my chin cupped in my hand.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Raise a cup every morning to joyfully (and energetically) fight the power. Sally Singer, Vogue, "10 Holiday Gifts That Dazzle, Then Largely Disappear," 29 Nov. 2018 The design here is lightweight and well-padded in both the ear cups and the headband. Jeff Dunn, Ars Technica, "The Ars Holiday Gift Guide 2018—good tech for the home and home office," 19 Nov. 2018 Top bottoms of rolls with 1/2 cup cauliflower relish. Anna Helm Baxter, Country Living, "Salami Sandwiches with Cauliflower Relish," 31 Oct. 2018 Strain pan drippings into a fat separator (or measuring cup). Woman's Day Test Kitchen, Woman's Day, "Rosemary Roasted-Turkey Gravy," 24 Oct. 2018 In medium saucepan, whisk together cornstarch, nutmeg, 1/2 cup milk and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper until smooth. The Good Housekeeping Test Kitchen, Good Housekeeping, "Green Bean and Cheddar Casserole," 23 Oct. 2018 Colorists on Instagram, however, are defining it as a gorgeous blend of blonde and brown that may be cool in tone but instantly calls to mind a hot cup of goes-down-smooth coffee. Marci Robin, Allure, "Blonde Roast Is the Latest Coffee-Inspired Hair-Color Trend for Fall," 14 Oct. 2018 Among the artifacts found were a gilded silver mummy mask, fragments of mummy cartonnages, canopic cylindrical jars and marl clay and faience cups. Fox News, "Archaeologists in Egypt discover ancient mummification workshop," 2 Oct. 2018 Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into a large bowl or measuring cup with a spout. Redbook Test Kitchen, Redbook, "Berry Custard Crunch," 20 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In the dark backstage photo, the star stands behind the curtain of the stage at the at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tenn., while cupping her new baby bump through her sequin dress. Fox News, "Carrie Underwood shows first photo of baby bump after second pregnancy announcement," 11 Aug. 2018 The photo, taken in April before a Women’s Copa America match in Chile, showed the Argentine players with their hands cupped behind their right ears, a sign of protest highlighting that no one was listening to them. Debora Rey, The Seattle Times, "Argentine women fight against inequality in soccer," 7 Nov. 2018 White recommends cupping it around your hair and pushing it around with your fingers to shape it — no brushes or combs. Sam Escobar, Good Housekeeping, "How to Get Perfect Curls Using a Diffuser," 9 Sep. 2015 Whisk in ⅓ cup brown sugar, ¼ cup red miso, and 1 Tbsp. Alex Delany, Bon Appetit, "Chicken Wing Dinner: A Rent Week Winner," 4 May 2018 Acupuncture, herbal and dietary supplementation, medical massage, cupping, and a variety of other techniques all fall under the broader umbrella of TCM. Abigail Barronian, Outside Online, "Traditional Chinese Medicine Holds the Secret to Heath," 1 June 2018 The former Patriots receiver Deion Branch cupped his hand to his ear, pro wrestling style, during his turn. Marc Tracy, New York Times, "N.F.L. Draft 2018 Round 2 and 3 Live Updates," 28 Apr. 2018 One photo, taken on June 30, 1998, shows Kenny G playing the saxophone for two girls decked out in scrunchies and tie-dye; in the background, a man cups the cheeks of a woman grinning from ear to ear. Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Summerfest 1998 featured scrunchies, tie-dye and Widespread Panic," 28 June 2018 To double check, hold the shoe upright, cup your palm around the heel and try to fold the toe back toward the heel. Elizabeth Narins, Cosmopolitan, "11 Things You Need to Know Before You Buy Running Shoes," 8 July 2014

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cup.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of cup


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cup


Middle English cuppe, from Old English, from Late Latin cuppa cup, alteration of Latin cupa tub — more at hive

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Statistics for cup

Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cup

The first known use of cup was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for cup



English Language Learners Definition of cup

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a small round container that often has a handle and that is used for drinking liquids (such as tea and coffee)

: the liquid that is contained in a cup

: a unit of measurement that is used when you are cooking



English Language Learners Definition of cup (Entry 2 of 2)

: to curve (your hand) into the shape of a cup

: to put your hand in a curved shape around (something)


\ˈkəp \

Kids Definition of cup

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a container to drink out of in the shape of a small bowl usually with a handle

2 : the contents of a small drinking container : cupful I drank a cup of tea.

3 : a unit of measure that equals half a pint or eight fluid ounces

4 : a trophy in the shape of a cup with two handles

5 : something like a small bowl in shape or use I picked her up in the cup of my hands …— Jean Craighead George, My Side of the Mountain


cupped; cupping

Kids Definition of cup (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to curve the hand or hands into the shape of a small bowl

2 : to put the hands in a curved shape around She cupped my face.


\ˈkəp \

Medical Definition of cup 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a usually open bowl-shaped drinking vessel often having a handle and a stem and base and sometimes a lid

2 : a drinking vessel and its contents : the beverage or food contained in a cup a second cup of coffee

3 : something resembling a cup invagination of the blastula to form a multilayered cellular cup : as

a(1) : an athletic supporter reinforced for providing extra protection to the wearer in certain strenuous sports (as boxing, hockey, or football)

(2) : either of the two parts of a brassiere that are shaped like and fit over the breasts

b : a small bell-shaped glass formerly used in cupping

c : a cap of metal or plastic shaped like the femoral head and used in plastic reconstruction of the hip joint


cupped; cupping

Medical Definition of cup (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to treat by cupping

intransitive verb

: to undergo or perform cupping

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More from Merriam-Webster on cup

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cup

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cup

Spanish Central: Translation of cup

Nglish: Translation of cup for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of cup for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about cup

Comments on cup

What made you want to look up cup? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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